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Nature reserve on island

The view from Preston Island to NewmillsONE of the most popular walks in the area, which offers visitors spectacular views and a chance to see wildlife at close quarters, is to be improved.

At present, the Torry Bay Local Nature Reserve route to Preston Island, from Low Valleyfield and Culross, is not a circular one. This will change, hopefully this year (2006), when new paths on the eastern side of the Valleyfield ash lagoons are opened.

The actual reserve, established in 1996, stretches from Logannet Power Station to beyond Comrie Point, with the ash lagoons and Preston Island forming a focal point.

There are various flat and wide, easily-accessible routes along and through the reserve to suit everyone, including wheelchair users.

The old mining buildings on Preston Island The mud flats provide an abundance of food for the birds, such as shelduck, wigeon, curlew, redshank and dunlin that overwinter at Torry Bay. In the autumn, sandwich tern, ringed plover, ruff and greenshank can be seen.

Pockets of saltmarsh contain colourful flowers such as sea aster, thrift and scurvy grass.

The ash lagoons are reclaimed land, created from the coal burning operations at Longannet. The ash is mixed with water and pumped along pipes to the artificial lagoons - now a haven for wildlife, thanks to extensive tree planting.

Preston Island, although no longer surrounded by water, features several well-maintained ruins of early 19th century industrial use.

A coal mine, established by Sir Robert Preston, was shut following an explosion, but the buildings were later to accommodate an illicit distillery.

Fife Council Countryside Ranger Stephanie Little is excited by the latest developments at the reserve.

Torry Bay"Local people have wanted a circular walk for some time and it will be a real improvement, being a lot more open, with far fewer fences and a grass area at Preston Island where people can enjoy a picnic."

The work is being funded by Scottish Power, who manage the ash lagoons.

Blairhall Bogside Cairneyhill Carnock Comrie Crombie Culross Gowkhall Kilbagie Kincardine Newmills Oakley Saline Steelend Torryburn Valleyfield